Securing your boat for a hurricane
When it comes to securing your boat for a hurricane, storing it out of the water is by far the best way to protect it, but you do have alternatives.
Storing your boat on land
If you can’t trailer your boat, have it hauled at a marina and stored nearby. Many marine insurance companies cover part of the cost of hauling a boat ahead of a named storm. Check your policy.
When a storm threatens, marinas get extremely busy. Make sure you have a storm-hauling provision in your marina contract and get in line early.
Once your boat is on land, take steps to protect it. While boats stored on racks are safer than those in the water, they are subject to wind damage. Make sure your boat, other boats on the rack, and the rack itself are tied down properly. You don’t want other boats blowing off the rack and into yours.
Marina and land storage pros and cons
- Eliminates the risk of sinking.
- Many insurance policies cover all or part of haul out.
- Additional prep is easier on land.
- It’s dependent on marina and pre-storm logistics.
- The marina may be at risk of flooding.
- You may have to implement a back-up plan.
Securing your boat at a dock or slip
While almost never as safe as storing your boat on land, storing your boat in the water at a dock or slip could be your only option. Slips are generally preferable to docks because you can secure your boat on both sides and use lines to hold it off the dock and pilings. Floating or fixed docks require you to secure the boat using different techniques.
Floating docks: Floating docks in good condition are better than fixed docks because dock line length remains constant regardless of water level.
Fixed docks: Carefully consider dock line length when docking at a fixed dock. If lines are too short, your boat will be held down as the water rises. If lines are too long, the boat may strike the dock or pilings. Long spring lines work best. Use double or triple dock lines, good chafing gear, and strong cleats on both the dock and boat.
Piling height: Pilings need to be high enough so that a high storm surge doesn’t go over them. Measure the pilings to be sure they can withstand the predicted storm surge.
Piling condition: If pilings are damaged or look rotten, tie up elsewhere. Weak pilings can give way under storm conditions, leaving your boat partially or completely unsecured.
Slips: A slip provides a tie point, either dock cleats or pilings, on both sides of your boat. If it’s wide enough and the cleats and pilings are secure, a slip is substantially better than a dock, which provides structural tie points on only one side. Secure your boat so the wind and waves (at any expected wave height) won’t drive the boat against the pilings, finger piers, dock end or adjacent boats.
Weather the storm
Are you ready for the next hurricane? Learn how to develop a plan to protect your boat by taking our online seminar, Hurricane Preparation for Boaters.